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Rockets look for bounce-back weekend
On the way to compiling the Western Hockey League's best record, there haven't been many occasions this season where Ryan Huska has had cause to be overly critical of his team.
But after suffering back-to-back losses this week for the first time since October, the Kelowna head coach made it clear the Rockets simply aren't meeting expectations.
"We haven't been happy at all with our last few efforts," Huska said. "We need to change that now. It's a critical time of year where we need to be playing well and playing a style that's going to get us ready going into the playoffs."
The Rockets will look to get back on track this weekend when they play a two-game set against the last-place Kamloops Blazers. The teams face off Friday in Kamloops, then again Saturday at Prospera Place.
After losing Sunday on the road against Seattle, the Rockets returned home Wednesday to host the Spokane Chiefs. With a 5-2 lead after 40 minutes, the Rockets looked to be cruising to their league-leading 41st win of the season. But a third-period collapse saw Spokane score three times in regulation, then again in the shootout to post a 6-5 win. It was the fashion in which his club lost that most dismayed Huska.
"We had a pretty solid lead going to the third and just let it get away," he said. "Our decision-making wasn't good, we overcomplicated things, were really back on our heels and just didn't deal with the situation very well."
Still, with 22 games remaining and a 10-point lead for top spot in the Western Conference, there are no panic buttons being pushed in the Rockets' dressing room.
Having said that, Huska wants his club to get back to business this weekend against the Blazers.
"This is an opportunity for us to rebound," he said. "You're not going to have your best games all the time, and when that happens good teams find a way to rebound quickly. That's what we need to do."
Saturday's game against the Blazers opens a five-game home stand for the Rockets, who will host Red Deer Wednesday, Edmonton next Friday and Victoria Saturday.
Meanwhile, the Rockets (40-7-0-3) topped the Canadian Hockey League rankings for the fifth week in a row. The OHL's Guelph Storm remain No. 2, while the Erie Otters are third.